Souls of Men

An Elaine Hope Novel, #1

A.R. Ashworth shows some real promise with his debut British mystery featuring Detective Inspector, Elaine Hope, but will need to make a few improvements in order for this to be a successful, long running series.

When a young girl is beaten to death, Elaine takes over the investigation in which the prime suspect was nothing more than a potential witness, putting any real progress with the case in jeopardy.

As the team is forced to come from behind, another murder occurs which could tie into Elaine’s case. Could there be a serial killer on the loose?

I love British mysteries. There is something about the atmosphere, the dialogue, and the featured inspectors that make these mysteries unique and absorbing.

The author definitely understands how to create that tone and the type of characterizations that go with it. All the elements are in place in this novel, but the pacing is very slow, the dialogue is a bit flat at times, and the romantic elements felt forced with very low key chemistry. The plot is just a little thin and predictable, which is never a good thing, but with mysteries it is especially troublesome.

The story does have its shining moments, though. Elaine is a strong female lead and I grew to like her quite a bit. The secondary characters are fleshed out quite well, which enhances the story and adds depth.

In the last quarter of the book the momentum shifts into high gear with a tense, somewhat emotional conclusion, which also left the door open for further installments.

This series may be a ‘work in progress’, but I think it deserves a chance to grow and develop. I plan on giving any subsequent installments a chance to see how things go from here. British mystery lovers, in particular, may want to give this one a try.

Book Blurb for Souls of Men

When a young teenage girl is found brutally murdered in East London, veteran Detective Inspector Elaine Hope catches the case alongside her superior, Marcus Benford. Benford suspects Peter Willend, an ex-military surgeon from Texas and one of the last people to see the victim alive, but Elaine isn't so sure. But when Benford is taken ill, and Elaine takes over the case, she's given the chance to develop a new line of enquiry.

But now she's in charge of a bungled case and has released the only suspect. Her superiors are doubtful, and London's tabloids are screaming for a scapegoat. With her protégé, Liz Barker, Elaine chases leads that entangle her in a web of secrets tied to a multi-national criminal organization. And as she tracks her prime suspect through wintery London boroughs, other, darker hunters come out from the shadows.

Elaine's life gets even more complicated when Willend, her former suspect, shows romantic interest, despite personal tragedies he won't reveal to anyone--but Elaine has her own secrets to match.

Souls of Men, A. R. Ashworth's masterful debut, is sure to appeal to readers of Sharon Bolton and Deborah Crombie.

Night Owl Reviews Feb, 2017 3.25